Regression or Revolution
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Brianna MazzaccaroAkira ShizmuHistory 1014 April 2016Revolution or Regression?     The French Revolution originated in 1789 when many people began to feel as if they lacked rights and opportunities due the existing system in France.  For centuries, monarchs who held absolute power had governed France; however, due to movements such as the Enlightenment, people began to question the absolute authority that had been given to the ruler and the Church. Enlightened Thinkers such a John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau published writings to inspire people to think for themselves instead of mindlessly following those in positions of power. These Enlightened Thinkers began to open people’s eyes, causing a want for “inevitable and continuous improvement.”(Carter and Warren 146).  According to Kant, Enlightenment is mans emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use ones own understanding without anothers guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use ones own mind without anothers guidance.” The powerful words being spread encouraged the members of the Third Estate to search for equality, rights, and opportunities that had previously been denied to them because of their position in the class system. The First and Second Estate were given the power to vote and make decisions while the third estate, the majority of the population, had no say in what rules and legislature were passed. According to Forging the Modern the Modern World, Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes saw the Third Estate as having ‘within itself all that is necessary for the formation of a complete nation.’”(Carter and Warren 153). Though the French Revolution proposed very revolutionary ideas and inspired many schools of thought, no tangible changes were actually made, therefore making it not revolutionary.

Going into the French Revolution, social class governed society. The estate system was referred to as the Estate General, which was established to divide society into three classes. The French government often used this to make it seem like they had the support of the French People, and that there was some sense of democracy, which really was not the case. Each Estate was give one vote, despite the amount of people within the estate. Because of this, the First and Second Estate always could outvote the Third Estate, even though the Third Estate contained the most heads. The First Estate was composed of nobles, often the higher up clergy. This estate owned land, but often did not pay taxes. The Second Estate was the noble class. This class was also exempt from taxes and could even tax others. They often collected feudal taxes, which should not have even existed in the time.  Finally, the Third Estate was the majority of the people and consisted of everyone else, including peasants, and skilled workers. They often owned land and possessed wealth, but that meant nothing because of the class system. Once people began to recognize the misplaced of power, they began to advocate for their cause.

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